Safety first – always! After a car accident, it’s imperative to make sure you are out of harm’s way. This is particularly necessary if the wreck takes place on a busy highway or road. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road, or at least remove yourself from the car to avoid further property damage and/or injuries.
Verify that all other passengers in the vehicle are safe. Depending on the specific circumstances, you may cause more harm if you move any of the occupants. It will be necessary to use your discretion. You must decide whether or not moving an injured passenger will help or hinder the situation. Of course, if there is a major injury of any sort, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1.
Once it has been verified that everyone involved in the accident is safe, you will need to call the police. If you have already requested an ambulance, then chances are the police will be arriving shortly. The police will make an official report, detailing the wreck and the aftermath. This official police report will be necessary to obtain if you plan on pursuing legal action for property damage and/or personal injuries.
Only after you have completed the steps above (i.e. verified everyone’s safety and called the police), should you start gathering information. You will need a variety of details regarding the accident for both an insurance claim, and any sort of legal action you may pursue.
Start by taking photographs of the scene: the vehicles involved in the wreck, the road conditions, road signs, any injuries sustained, etc. Remember, there is no such thing as having “too much” evidence. These images may be able to prove who was at fault for the accident.
Next, you will need to get information from the other driver involved in the collision. This information should include the following items:
Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how this other driver will react. For example, he or she may be forthcoming with the information listed above or prove to be more difficult. No matter what, avoid an altercation. If you must, simply wait for the police to arrive before moving forward.
However, never under any circumstances should you admit fault. Even if you think you could have caused the accident, do not take blame. Instead, once you are able to leave the scene, contact a car accident attorney.
Your last step following a car accident: contact a car accident attorney. Only an educated and skilled attorney can help you with the legal process, such as filing a claim and collecting appropriate evidence to win your claim. Generally, car accident attorneys work on contingency, meaning unless you win your case, you do not have to pay a fee.
As stated above, this can be an inconvenient and confusing time. Get the professional help you need to move on with your life after a car accident.